The Umbrella Clause

Last week, I chastised Tara for dashing through the rain. We were going out to eat at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, and when we arrived a light drizzle – really, nothing more than a gentle mist – was falling. Tara ran across the parking lot as if being chased by a pack of Republicans carrying “Vote for Romney!” billboards.

“Real Northwesterners don’t run through the rain,” I told her. “We stroll.”

“But my hair was getting wet,” she replied.

“At least you weren’t carrying an umbrella,” I said.

No self-respecting PNW’er uses one of these! Unless it’s hailing.

It’s true: with all the rain we get in the Pacific Northwest, we barely let it faze us. We certainly don’t run through it (because we are the superior, dominant species and rain is just lowly drops of water falling from the sky (ha – it can’t even stay in one place! Lame.) that must not wield any power over us), and we never use umbrellas. They’re just not cool. I made reference to this in my handy pocket guide to the PNW, and it remains every bit as true now as it did then. Wet hair is a small price to pay for showing rain who is boss.

Not more than three days later, I found myself running through the parking lot at work in a furious (and futile) attempt to avoid getting drenched, an act that makes me…

A. A hypocrite
B. Not a real Northwesterner, according to my own definition.

In my defense, it was absolutely pouring. And, on top of that, hailing. My friend Mike – a lifelong PNW’er – pointed out that there is a hail clause pertaining to umbrella usage. Even the most hardcore Northwesterner, it turns out, will be excused for protecting his head against chunks of ice dropping like lead weights from the heavens. So, my all-out sprint can be forgiven, after all. Whew! And for what it’s worth, I might as well have just strolled through the downpour anyway, for all the good my mad dash did me. I was soaked and chilled to the bone the rest of the afternoon.

By the way, the umbrella clause wouldn’t do me a bit of good anyway, as I don’t even own an umbrella.

I did tell Tara yesterday, as we were strolling through a parking lot in the rain (a very common theme lately, have you noticed?) that wearing a hood, as we both were at the time, was perfectly acceptable. Hats are fine, too. Just not umbrellas. My California friends think this is the nuttiest thing ever, but to them I have one word: sprouts. Seriously?! They’re like grass clippings. Grass clippings that you willingly ingest with your salad (or did back in the 80s…I don’t know, does anybody still eat sprouts these days?). My point is, we all have our quirks.

So anyway, I think Tara is learning what it takes to blend in with the locals. (The quick answer: wet hair). And just in time, too. The rainy season began with a fury a couple of weeks ago, and has not let up since. Even in our notoriously wet climate, it’s been wetter than usual this month – after the driest three months in Portland history. Go figure.

But enough about rain. Let’s talk belly dancers some more. If you didn’t notice, Melissa – my belly dancing crush who discovered my blog – did, in fact, respond to my last post. Click the back button and see for yourself! This is all so surreal (and quite funny). She’s actually very witty and has a great sense of humor, qualities I admire. AND she can shake her hips like nobody’s business. In her comment she wrote, “The whole troupe loves your blog post.” She went on to add, “You are only writing down what so many other audience members are thinking,” and I suppose that’s true. Go, me – honest to a fault! But hey, I’ll take it. How many guys can say they entertained an entire belly dancing troupe? Never in my wildest dreams, I tell you.

It’s official: I lead a charmed life.

And I’ve got the wet hair to prove it.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

18 thoughts on “The Umbrella Clause

  1. LOL – I use an umbrella in the RAIN. I don’t use it in a passing shower – which is the difference we have here in the Pacific Northwest. When it’s Raining – you are allowed to use an umbrella to keep from getting drenched and catching pneumonia. When it’s a passing shower or a drizzle, you are frowned upon for pulling it out. So I think you both are “safe” in that regards. 😛 ~


    1. I don’t know…maybe a heavy rain, but not a normal rain or a light rain or a drizzle or a mist. And then, how does one define “heavy”? It’s all too confusing for me. I’ll just keep getting wet!


  2. I guess because I lived in Florida for 20 years, getting wet in the rain really doesn’t bother me. In fact, as long as I’m NOT in my dress clothes for work, I won’t even open my umbrella.

    And speaking of getting wet…

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, we’re getting slammed with a ton of wind, rain, and possible snow within the next 2-3 days here on the east coast. Hurricane Sandy!

    God…I don’t care about the rain and wind, but I just hope we don’t lose power…or I won’t be able to BLOG – HA!


  3. Love the title of this post, Mark. But, good God, who knew such a policy existed. Perhaps you should do a series of instructional posts to help us all learn how we, too, can become better residents of “Portlandia”–even from afar.


  4. We got snow today for most of the day & it’s very slippery here. This is our first snow (to stick around) of the year. Last year we didn’t get snow until almost Christmas, but this time period is much more usual for us.


  5. In Miami only lawyers and such carry umbrellas. Besides, since rain here seems to fall horizontally not vertically from above so umbrella is useless. It does not matter where you are , as soon as you place in umbrella rack it will be stolen as soon as you turn away. I left New York when I was just 5, but I ain’t like those stupid Yankees who don’t have sense to take your shoes off so they are nice and dry when you get inside.


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